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ANALYZING THE EFFECT OF OVERCROWDED PRISON CELLS ON THE WELL BEING OF PRISONERS

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ANALYZING THE EFFECT OF OVERCROWDED PRISON CELLS ON THE WELL BEING OF PRISONERS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

A prison is a place/space used to confine criminal or people convicted or awaiting trial. It includes the land, the house and every other structure located within the institution used for the purpose of detention. This led to the establishment of the first prison administration modeled on British tradition, and staffed by officers trained in the same tradition when the then Governor, H.S. Freeman, in 1862, was commissioned, inter-alia, to appoint judges and other officers. Hence, the Broad Street Prison was built in Lagos in 1872, but the prison ordinance providing for the establishment of prison was passed along with the Supreme Court ordinance in 1876. Therefore, the prisons administration in Nigerian started in 1876, when the prison ordinance came into force. But, from 1876 to 1920, the police department ran it. However, by 1920, the police ceased to be in-charge of prisons administration in Nigeria.

Overcrowding in Nigeria prisons occurs where the numbers of prisoners exceeds prison capacity to an extent inmates cannot be housed in a humane, healthy and psychological manner. In Nigeria, overcrowding is generally called congestion. It constitutes a serious challenge in Nigeria prisons especially in prisons located in the metropolitan cities. In such prisons, cells in Nigeria, facilities hold as many as twice or thrice their capacity. In such cells there is hardly enough room for prison inmates to move body and limbs freely. In such state each prisoner is allocated a “post” which approximately is a space of a foot and a half.  Majority of the prisons in Nigeria are congested and overcrowded and this create enormous problem in prison management process in terms of reformation, rehabilitation and reintegration. The capacity of Nigerian prisons has remained virtually the same for the past two decades not withstanding the alarming increase in prison population. These prisons were built by the colonial administration and native authority predating to the era Nigeria gain independence in 1960. The conditions of these prisons are in an alarming state of despair with no sense of maintenance or renovation reflective of long neglect by the Nigeria government. In fact, most of the prisons constructed at this period are old, in bad shape and at the brinks of collapse. However, few prisons have been constructed with most substandard materials, which are a far cry from modern prisons across the globe. Examples of such new prisons include, Gusua Medium Prison, Kebbi new Prisons (1991), Medium Security Prisons Kirikiri (1993), Funtia (2003), Oyo and Eket Prisons (2007) respectively. Considering the act of imprisonment as the most effective form of sanctions of offenders, nevertheless, in the last few decades, inmate‟s population in Nigeria have grown substantially, to the extent leading to overcrowding. The overcrowding tends to alter the psychological, physiological and behavioural well-being of the inmates (Crystal, 2004). The massive influx of inmates that begun in recent times as a result of delay in judiciary process has produced a rate of growth in the nation‟s inmates population that scholars and legal commentators have repeatedly described and characterized as unprecedented. Aduba (2005) reported that the total prison capacity during the period of 1978 to 1981 was 27,257, but it was revealed that in 1978, the average monthly population was 32,332; in 1979 it was 34,770; in 1980, it was 35,332; and in 1981 it was 38,477 (Nigeria prison services, 1978-1981). The percentage of „overcrowding‟ thus was 18.61 in 1978, 27.56 in 1979, 29.43 in 1980, and 41.16 in 1981. Currently, Nigeria prisons are housing 49,000 in two hundred and thirty four prisons out of which 20% are convicts while the rest are awaiting trial inmates (Amnesty International Report, 2012).This imaginable condition of overcrowding is relatively easy to recognise when one sees it situations where there is no enough room for prisoners to sleep; no facilities to provide enough food, health care or any form of constructive activities; insufficient staff to ensure that prisoners are safe; lack of accommodation to hold separately types of prisoners who should be kept apart- juveniles from adult; awaiting trails from convicted , or lack of capacity to admit any more numbers so that emergency measures have to be taken in the form of amnesty, emergency accommodation or the holding of prisoners in police custody

1.2 Statement of research problem

prison is a place delimited and declared as such by the law of the state and created to ensure restrained and custody of individuals accused or convicted of violating the criminal laws of the state. An in-depth assessment of research carried by Osondi [2008] indicate that there is ever-increasing problems of prison administration, like poor funding, prison congestion and the failure of the extant prison laws to address the major objective for establishing prison and rehabilitation of the prison inmates. This has continued to constitute a cog in the wheel of success in the Nigeria prisons. The funding of the system has been on the decline, coupled with continued increase of prison inmates, leading to prison congestion. The prison administration has equally been confronted with cases of corruption among few high ranking officers, not minding the small resources made available for the management of the prison by the federal government. Staff, especially the rank and file, (non-commissioned officers) is becoming disgruntled in the discharge of their duties as a result of lack of incentive to boost their morale. The prison system, which ideally should have been solely for correction of prison inmates through counseling, rehabilitations and reform of inmates, has today, become a breeding ground for hardened criminals who become worse than they were when they got into prison

1.3 Objectives of the study

The primary objective of this study is as follows:

l  To find out why prisons are overcrowded.

l  To ascertain the extent to which prison congestion in Nigeria poses a serious challenge on the well being of the inmates

l  To find out ways to improve the basic amenities in prisons 

l  To improve the living conditions of prison inmates

1.4 Research questions

1.     What are the reason for overcrowded prison?

2.     To what extent have prison congestion in Nigeria pose a serious challenge on the well being of the inmates?

3.     Do you think the basic amenities provided for prisoners can be improved upon?

4.     Do you think living conditions of prison inmate can be improved upon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The significance of this study cannot be underestimated as:

l  This study will analyze the effect of overcrowded prisons cells on the well-being of prisoners. 

l  The findings of this research work will undoubtedly provide the much needed information to government agency, prison service, individual  and academia.

1.6 Scope of the study

This study analyzes the effect of overcrowded prison cells on the well-being of prisoners . hence, this study will be delimited to selected prisons holding in Lagos state

1.7 Limitations of the study

This study was constrained by a number of factors which are as follows:

 just like any other research, ranging from unavailability of needed accurate materials on the topic under study, inability to get data

Financial constraint , was faced by  the researcher ,in getting relevant materials  and  in printing and collation of questionnaires

Time factor: time factor pose another constraint since having to shuttle between writing of the research and also engaging in other academic work making it uneasy for the researcher

1.8 Operational definition of terms

Analyze: examine something methodically and in detail, typically in order to explain and interpret it.

Effect: a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.

Overcrowded prison: a social phenomenon occurring when the demand for space in prisons in a jurisdiction exceeds the capacity for prisoners.

Prisoners: a person legally committed to prison as a punishment for a crime or while awaiting trial.


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